It’s funny – whenever something good happens, any seasoned Leaf fan (and I say that with respect to those of you who have watched this team a lot longer than I have – but I think I’ve earned my stripes) has learned to shrug it off and temper their appreciation for it with whatever excuse happens to fit best. As of yesterday, that excuse was – “It’s only preseason, don’t read too much into that win.” Of course, those same fans are usually the ones that will take away just about every possible negative from tonight’s shutout defeat against Philadelphia.
Yes, I would have preferred that the debut of the new Kessel-Connolly-Lupul line had gone a bit better than 6 shots on goal and a combined -1 rating. Yes, I wish James Reimer had been the one posting the shutout in his sophomore preseason debut instead of Sergei Bobrovsky. But that doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly lost all hope that the Leafs are a better team than they were last season, or that I think Reimer is doomed to the sophomore slump that many of the more “glass is half-empty” Leaf fans have already resigned him to.
But, to prove that I’m not the eternal optimist I’m sure I sound like by now, let me temper some of this. Luke Schenn looked rusty as a bucket of bolts that have spent the last century on the Titanic. Jeff Finger proved to be about as useful a defensive partner as, well, Jeff Finger, but that doesn’t excuse Schenn’s miscues on the Flyers’ 1st and 3rd goals. Luke wasn’t the only d-man that struggled. The rest of the blueline corps had trouble keeping the front of the net clear, and you really can’t blame Reimer for any of the goals, although he probably should have had the last one. Joe Colborne didn’t have as good a game as he did last night, making a couple of ugly giveaways, but he wasn’t the only one who seemed to find himself lost in a game that really never had any good flow to it, from start to finish. On the flipside, Nazem Kadri had another solid showing, including a monster hit in the 3rd period. He looks more and more like he’s starting to get what it means to play in the NHL, and I’m excited to see what he can do if he string efforts like these through the whole season.
This is what preseason and training camp is for, ladies and gentlemen, to get all the kinks out, let everyone shake off the dust and get back to business. Let’s not start a full-on panic stampede for the exits just yet.